New PDF release: A Brief History of Mexico

By Lynn V. Foster

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Located in the middle of a series of narrow valleys created by two converging chains of the Sierra Madre, Monte Albán may have been chosen for its central, easily defensible position. Archaeologists have argued that a confederacy of the nobles from the valleys jointly chose the site as their capital for ruling highland Oaxaca. Although people continued to populate the valleys (unlike the basin surrounding Teotihuacán), there is evidence that the elite no longer did. The only city-state in Oaxaca with any concentration of power (unlike the Maya region), Monte Albán dominated a vast region, at least according to the hieroglyphic proclamations of conquest carved into its buildings.

In the sacred round, numbers 1 through 13 rotate consecutively with 20 day names, then begin at 1 again with a new order of the same day names so that there is an unrepeating cycle of 260 numbered days. Calendar Round Throughout Mesoamerica, religious festivals and dynastic events were dated by the sacred round combined with the solar calendar. ” It took 52 years before the dual name of any day would repeat, a period of time in the Mesoamerican system comparable in significance to our century.

At Teotihuacán, archaeologists discovered a ritual burial of over 200 sacrificed individuals symmetrically arranged inside 28 DIVERSITY OF MESOAMERICAN CIVILIZATION the base of the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent; most of them, including the women, were outfitted as warriors. In the Maya area, archaeologists have uncovered signs of devastating warfare, and epigraphers have translated hieroglyphs about battles between cities. The Classic period then, was not an especially stable time. By its end, entire cities were abandoned, and power and trade alliances had shifted to new sites on the periphery of the classic regions—such as Chichén Itzá in northern Yucatán, El Tajín in Veracruz, and Cacaxtla and Xochicalco on the edges of the basin of Mexico.

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